SZYMANOWSKI Stabat Mater. Symphony No 3
This is an outstanding recording, by an all-Polish team, of three of Szymanowski’s most sumptuously beautiful works. The two completed sections of the unfinished Litany to the Virgin Mary are the perfect choices to open the disc precisely because of their inconclusive nature – the music of the second hangs suspended in the air as though designed precisely to usher in the Stabat mater – though chronologically they date from 1930, five years later. Soprano Alexandra Kurzak is absolutely the right voice for both these works, demanding as they do this kind of combination of power and delicacy. Not that the other soloists are left in the shade: the powerful baritone Artur Rucin´ski is particularly impressive.
The much earlier Third Symphony, a setting of a Polish translation of Rumi’s poem ‘Song of the Night’, provides an ostensibly secular pendant to these two works of religious inspiration. In fact its ecstatic, mystical aura corresponds precisely to the poet’s intimations of cosmic divinity, and as such provides an excellent and appropriate counterweight to the two later works of Catholic inspiration. Tenor soloist Dmitry Korchak pierces through the rich orchestral palette (and, indeed, the sheer volume of much of the work), and is beautifully supported by the excellent Warsaw Philharmonic Choir.
Jacek Kaspszyk directs as though his life depends on it, drawing out every shade and subtlety from what is music of an outstandingly wide range of colour. Warner’s recording, made in the Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall, captures every detail. Highly recommended.